By Roxanne Squires
AITKIN, Minn. — Riverwood Healthcare Center unveiled its newest project to expand the clinic campus in Aitkin, including a new dialysis center, which will provide comprehensive care and allow easier access for patients and their families.
The construction of the estimated $14.9 million expansion broke ground July 17 and is on track for completion by spring 2019, with the dialysis center in Aitkin becoming one of approximately 10 that CentraCare Health facilitates in communities around central Minnesota, according to a statement.
The groundbreaking event established the launch of Riverwood Foundation’s Growing Together Capital Campaign to encourage and invite community support, successfully drawing 100 people out to the scene. “The design process progressed really well as a collaborative effort between Riverwood, the HDR design team and the general contractor,” said Don Rolf, senior project manager at Omaha, Neb.-headquartered HDR, the architect on the project.
The project will operate under four phases, including a renovation of space to offer a new kidney dialysis facility to be operated in partnership with CentraCare Health; a redesign of the specialty clinic (allowing for expansion of current service lines, including a new GI lab for the Minnesota Reflux and Heartburn Center); renovation of the Aitkin primary care clinic that will aid a team-based approach, relocation and expansion of the rehabilitation department providing easier access for patients; and an expansion of space to allow for growth in the orthopedic department with easier access and additional imaging capabilities.
“The building addition will retain the current exterior look and materials. The new entrances will have a canopy over the door for weather protection,” said Rolf.
The interior will offer a streamlined registration/checkout area to enhance the patient experience; the size of exam rooms have been increased and designed for better flexibility in delivering patient care; and the dialysis treatment will now occur on the Riverwood campus allowing patients to stay local for their treatment.
According to a statement, Dr. Ben Parker, a nephrologist with CentaCare Health, explained the significance of providing local dialysis care, with the number of patients currently served by CentraCare totaling at approximately 500 patients, with 50 getting home dialysis service.
Chad Cooper, Riverwood CEO, added that, by completing this new treatment center, Riverwood Healthcare Center is not only proving its commitment to providing quality health care, but also proving its commitment to the pursuit of producing healthier communities.
“I’m happy to see kidney care come to Aitkin,” Parker said. “The dialysis unit will be an incredible help to family members and friends who now need to drive loved ones to Brainerd or Duluth for dialysis. I commend Riverwood for moving forward with this project as well as those offering financial support.”
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was unable to attend the groundbreaking at Riverwood, but released a written statement expressing her support.
“Local dialysis options improve the quality of life of patients… and ensure residents can access care they require,” Klobuchar stated. “Bringing this service to Riverwood Healthcare Center has required collaboration, planning and hard work, and I commend you for your efforts.”
Rolf said funding is being provided by a local banking institution, along with the efforts of Riverwood Foundation. Up to $10 million will be financed through a tax exempt financing package facilitated through a local lender, and another $1.3 million is being raised through a community capital campaign. The balance will be funded through capital reserves.
Construction is currently underway with no challenges to date.